U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra Advocates for COVID-19 Vaccines in Valley Visit

Dr. Guy Fish, president and CEO of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, shakes hands in August of 2021 with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra while state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Congresswoman Lori Trahan look on. (Courtesy photograph.)

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra toured one of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s clinics yesterday morning before participating in a roundtable discussion of health care services for vulnerable communities.

Becerra is the 25th secretary of health and human services and the first of Hispanic descent to hold the cabinet-level position. He traveled to Massachusetts to highlight the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination progress. Joining the secretary were Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez, state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and others.

“We are going to continue to go where Americans are and, for those who have not yet been vaccinated, we’re there. We want to reach you,” he said. In response to questions about whether President Joe Biden’s will advocate for booster shots, Becerra said, “the federal government is exploring everything we must do to keep Americans safe, including the possibility of boosters.”

The Health Center, which provides primary health care in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen, played a leading role, first, in COVID-19 testing and, then, providing vaccinations in Valley cities. It operated 35 pop-up vaccine clinics and administered more than 100,000 vaccinations.

Massachusetts has the second-highest vaccination rate in the country.

Officials gave Becerra a tour of its main clinic at 34 Haverhill St., in Lawrence. While there, Dr. Wendy Barr, the Health Center’s vice president of Clinical Education and Residency, provided an overview of the Lawrence Family Medicine Residency which gives physicians post-graduate training and experience.

Later, in Lowell, Becerra, Trahan, Sudders and others met with Gregg Croteau, CEO of UTEC, the organization tackling youth issues in Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill. Becerra said, “They’re fighting poverty and prejudice with hope and opportunity.”

Trahan said, “It’s thanks to their ongoing efforts that have persisted through the pandemic, as well as robust federal investments, that hundreds of at-risk young adults remain on track to achieving employment or graduating with their degree. It’s heartening to know that we have a champion for organizations like UTEC in Secretary Becerra leading the Department largely responsible for those investments, and I look forward to partnering with him on a number of initiatives in the future.”

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